Killer bacteria runs through Odisha's Karlapat forests, claims five jumbos

With the calf's death, which was reported on the day, four mortalities have been recorded in as many days which has left the Wildlife Wing concerned.

Published: 13th February 2021 08:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th February 2021 08:17 AM   |  A+A-

Carcass of an elephant lying inside a forest of Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary

Carcass of an elephant lying inside a forest of Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary. (Photo| EPS)

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR/BHAWANIPATNA : Haemorrhagic septicemia appears to be sweeping through the forests of Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary in Kalahandi where at least five elephants have fallen to a bacterial organism, prompting the Forest department to send an expert team to the protected area. A team, headed by Prof Niranjan Sahu, from Centre for Wildlife Health of Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) is on its way.

The Wildlife Wing has begun immunisation of cattle in Karlapat, Badtikraguda, Tentulipadar, Lilingpadar and Jakam villages, closer to the two forest beats where the elephants' death reports came from, said Shashi Paul, acting PCCF (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden.

It has also alerted neighbouring Kalahandi North and Rayagada forest divisions since the disease is communicable. Initially, anthrax as a cause has been ruled out because the symptoms are completely different.

All the deaths occurred within one herd which had come from Narla forests but so far, no death has been reported from that part, sources said. Of the five, four elephants were female. The first death was reported on February 1 when carcass of the jumbo was found near Tentulipadar village inside the sanctuary. Post mortem revealed that the dead pachyderm was pregnant. The next three were reported from near Ghusurigudi nullah.

With the calf's death, which was reported on the day, four mortalities have been recorded in as many days which has left the Wildlife Wing concerned.  DFO Kalahandi (South) Division Ashok Kumar said post mortem has been conducted and report is awaited. Lab test of the first elephant conducted in OUAT revealed that it was due to haemorrhagic septicemia.

Since oral emissions during grazing can spread haemorrhagic septicemia, the Forest department has been on alert. Locals living in villages inside the sanctuary take their cattle out for grazing inside the forest which is why cattle immunisation in Karlapat, Badtikraguda, Tentulipadar, Lilingpadar and Jakam villages has been started.

Villagers have been requested not to send their cattle to forest in view of the situation. Stagnant water is being treated with bleaching powder to avoid further spread and water samples from different spots are sent for testing.

A team of forest officials is also keeping a close watch on another herd which was in a nearby forest. In Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary, there are three herds, DFO said. Forest staff have been directed to conduct a field survey and track elephant herds. Kumar further said that it was yet to be ascertained if any other species of wild animals are affected.  Experts from OUAT will be reaching the district for field analysis, he added. 

Five-day-old calf  to get new home in Kapilash Centre

BARIPADA: Five days after rescuing a new born male elephant from a village near Tunguru reserve forest here, the Rairangpur Wildlife Division has decided to release the jumbo calf in Kapilash Rescue Centre in Dhenkanal district.

On Sunday, Forest department officials had rescued the baby elephant from the garden of one Dhruba Charan Dehuri in Kalachamak village near Tunguru reserve forest which comes under Sargoda Wildlife Section, after finding it abandoned by the mother.

Rairangpur Divisional Forest Officer Arun Kumar Mishra said the jumbo calf was only two days old when it was rescued. "The baby elephant was born late on Saturday night. Its mother had fed him once and left. Forest officials waited for a day for the mother to return but it didn't," he said.

The baby elephant had to be carried on a cot to Bisoi Range Office where it was treated by STR veterinary doctor Piyush Soren and surgeon of Wildlife Trust of India Dr Vishakha. Official sources said the baby jumbo was able to get up and walk 48 hours after being treated and fed baby food.  

The DFO further informed that a herd of four elephants including a tusker, two female elephants and a one-year-calf are roaming near Tunguru reserve forest. It is possible that the new born calf was delivered by one of the female jumbos.

A lady forest guard has been engaged to look after the baby. "The department will release the baby elephant to Kapilash Rescue Centre once its health condition is stable," Mishra said. 

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